Sunday, July 15, 2012

Help! I need money! What do I do for fundraisers?

Just today a new band director friend asked an important question on the Band Director's Facebook group. Help! I got a new job but I need to make some funds to buy new music, equipment, etc. What do I do?

What do you do? First off I would get in there and get that place cleaned up so you know what you have and what you need! You also need to get cleaned up and organized so you have a space that is yours to make music in with you students (which is the most important thing)

Next you should start making a short term and long term list of what you need (and you will keep adding to and modifying this list). What is daunting about this process is how BIG the number is going to be that you need to fundraise AND how much stuff you probably really do need. Do not panic! That is not the purpose of this exercise!

You need to know what you need and in what priority order because as you build a program you may actually start receiving donations and offers to purchase items. If you don't know what you need you don't know what to ask for. If you don't ask for things how are folks to know what you need? The easiest way to ask is on your website or band facebook group. Post your list of immediate needs. Donations are accepted by the items needed or by financial donations. Its great when you start receiving items and can start thanking individuals or the community for their gracious donations.

This just recently happened to me. After starting my ninth year at my job it became apparent that one of the items on my "long term wish list" were new sousaphones. After nine years and even purchasing some used ones it was time to replace them. So what did I do? I started asking for donations. And you know what happened? People started donating. Some individuals got their employer to match the donation. And even a few community members without students in our program started to offer their support. Some donations were $25 and some were for an entire instrument. We did NO extra fundraising but simply continuing to ask. Then we put a little bit of work into our "used" instruments and are going to sell those to finish funding the project. Done. My sousaphones will be off my long term list and purchased by next year :)

After you have your list comes the hard part. Determining your budget. I believe firmly in having a budget. You can not walk blindly in the world of band funding. Fundraising can get very overwhelming and stressful if aren't careful so knowing what you need in terms of funding is very important. What I do is set my band calendar for the year and then build my budget around that. Where are we going as a program (literally) and what funds do we need to that. I work closely with my booster treasurer and every year it gets easier and easier because we can work off previous years experiences. We even budget in scholarship amounts for our band activities for our less fortunate students etc.

Next my boosters and I put together a fundraising calendar and budget. Knowing how much money is going to go out determines how much money needs to come in. We schedule all of our fundraisers on our calendar and start looking for volunteers to assist in coordinating them. Some are smaller and are designed for students to individually benefit more on them (we have a general fund and band account system meaning some fundraising goes towards the general fund and some towards individual students to go towards jazz trips or marching band expenses etc. Some fundraisers are a split between the two, that's just how we do it....) We also do a fundraising budget so we know what we are going to spend because some of our fundraisers do initially cost us a little.

FYI for every fundraiser we have a fundraising form that our booster board approves that outlines the anticipated expenses, time line, profit, volunteer needs etc. This form is very hand as once my board approves the fundraiser it can then easily get ASB and administrative approval.

So what do we do? Well here's an idea of what we do:

Car washes (4-5 per summer). Parents & students can work. Benefits student accounts. We do these in a "green way" to meet city code.

San Francisco Giants Concessions & Shoreline Ampitheater Concessions (many organizations allow non-profits to get their volunteers trained and work at concession stands at events, concerts, or sporting events)

Fall Fundraisers:
Apple Gift Card Fundraiser, BBQ Dinner & Jazz Concert Event OR Spaghetti Dinner
Car Washes
Coupon Book Sales (County wide coupon books with a custom cover featuring our bands, sells for $20 we make $13.50 profit per book, last year we profited $6,000)
**Ongoing items sales. We sell the items listed below at our football games**

Winter Fundraisers:
We Care Coffee Sales. I can't recommend this company enough. They do OUTSTANDING work and are huge music education advocates. They have top notch product, great profit and are WONDERFUL to work with.

See's Candy Holiday Sales

Spring Fundraisers
Gourmet Apples:
Debrito apples has a fundraising program. They are local to us but there may be other similar companies near you that have a gourmet, unique product that no one else is selling that you might be able to sell

The Play A Thon
Host a big event! Ours this year was our Play A Thon. I blogged about this event in previous blogs. Basically we played music from 8am-12pm (each of my ensembles played during their classes, some local bands played in the afternoon, the junior high groups performed, and then we did a marathon concert in the evening). We had a raffle for the public in which you could buy tickets to win items donated. Students went out in "pledge party groups" to canvas our neighborhoods and solicit donations and advertise the event. We had prizes for the students who collected the most donations and students also earned drawing tickets for the prize drawing for the many items we had donated for prizes for the students. We fed all the kids dinner and the students signed up for jobs like stage crew. The students did the decorations and served on all the committees for the event. Our first event made nearly $10,000!

Valentine's & Easter See's Candy

Mixed Bag
We sold these items this spring to benefit the students individual accounts. Many folks really like this fundraiser.

Ongoing Fundraisers:
(we often sell these at football games, school events, concerts etc)
-Store fundraising cards (Save Mart, Raley's etc.) present the card at purchase you get a percentage
-Chico Bags (we bought these in bulk, our school color with our school logo on them)
-School sweatshirts (nice sweatshirts with our school name, some say band some say not)
-Bi-monthly Dine Outs (pairing with restaurants for a night at their restaurant in which our program receives a portion of the profits from that nights purchases)

This is an example of what we do in my program but it won't work for everyone. The biggest thing I would say is that you have to find fundraisers that are WORTH THE TIME that is invested in planning them and participating in them. You will burn out your students and community if all you do is sell things. You also don't want to do too many fundraisers back to back or you will burn out your students and parents. I don't require everyone to participate in all of them but my entire program participates in the Coupon Book Sale and the Play A Thon. Try to find fundraisers that interest your students and can benefit your community. Sell products (like coffee) that people use. Ask parents to help run fundraisers so you aren't always doing it yourselves. 

Make a plan, find a few things to do. Find ways to motivate your students to participate :) Talk about the fundraiser every day while you are doing it. Post how your fundraiser is doing in the classroom, talk it up on email to the parents but keep it "visible" while you are doing it so that you can increase success! Then tell everyone about how well it did and what you were able to do with those funds to build motivation.

Happy Fundraising!

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